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Sustainable Fashion—The Need of the Hour

Sustainable Fashion in India
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The fashion industry does its part in contributing to the pile of wastes lying around on the planet. Considering the pollution and scarcity that we are currently dealing with, it has become imperative for us to live sustainably.

One essential part of our living is clothing. I don’t think that needs an explanation. The problem is that our present clothing choices are harming the environment.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable Fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity. It addresses the whole system of fashion. That is to say, it deals with independent social, cultural, ecological, and financial systems.

It also considers fashion from the perspective of all stakeholders. These include users and producers, all living species, and contemporary and future dwellers on the planet. Sustainable Fashion, therefore, is the responsibility of citizens, public sector, and the private sector.

The concept of Sustainable Fashion is not new. However, right now, it is the need of the hour. Sustainable Fashion refers to the philosophy of environment-friendly fashion keeping the environment and the social responsibility of humans in mind.

Why Should We Switch to Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable Fashion calls for a shift from our traditional practices to new ones. For producers and manufacturers, it entails the setup of a new system and for consumers the adoption of new products. It is natural for us to be reluctant to introduce such a huge change in our lives.

But, it is a change that we need to adopt. Sustainable Fashion gives the fashion industry an opportunity to act differently. Through this concept, it can pursue profit and growth while creating new value and deeper wealth for society and the world economy.

The goal of sustainable fashion is to create flourishing ecosystems and communities. This can include an increase in the value of local production, prolonging of a product’s life cycle, alleviating waste, and elevating the value of timeless garments.

We as a society need to adopt sustainable fashion because:

It contributes towards a green environment

Sustainable Fashion entails producing clothes from biodegradable fabric. This fabric can eventually be returned to the ecosystem after it has been worn out. The textile is not wasted. No chemicals are used in production. Sustainable Fashion thus reduces the pollution caused.

It is ethical and fair towards employees

Sustainable Fashion focuses specifically on local production. By choosing sustainable fashion, you choose fair wages and better working conditions for the people making your clothes. Sustainable Fashion products are free of chemicals and toxics and don’t require highly laborious production processes.

Quality reduces Waste

Sustainable Fashion focuses on quality using materials and finishes that last longer and are kind to the environment. This is opposite to what the fast fashion industry does today. Sustainable Fashion is not mass-produced. It is often handmade and unique. In choosing sustainable brands that offer natural quality, you reduce the amount of waste produced and help the ecosystem.

The Seven Forms of Sustainable Fashion

A circular representation of sustainable fashion was first created in 2012 and updated in 2016. It was created by Dr. Anna Brismar of Green Strategy.

Seven Forms of Sustainable Fashion
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Ideally, all aspects of the figure should combine for every new garment that is produced.

Each garment should be
  1. manufactured on-demand or custom-made
  2. in high quality and design
  3. in an environmentally friendly manner
  4. with consideration to multiple ethical aspects
Thereafter, it should be
  • used well and long with good care, repair, and redesign
  • handed down when no longer required
  • to prolong active life

What are some Sustainable Alternatives to Fashion Today?

Although ideally fashion products should be produced and consumed in the above-described manner, it is far from reality today. That is not to say that no progress has been made.

Sustainable Alternatives such as natural fibres are readily available in the market and on a rise. Here is a list of 6 such alternatives that producers and consumers can choose for sustainable fashion.

Hemp Fibre

Hemp fibre is a sustainable fabric that can better the situation of the planet. Hemp Fibres are among the most versatile natural fibres. They are anti-bacterial in nature, long-lasting, and resilient. Hemp clothing works as a natural air-conditioner and heater in the summers and winters.

Hemp Fibre is a significant part of the sustainable fashion movement. Those who opt for hemp apparels do so after becoming aware of their social responsibility. Hemp is biodegradable and breaks down easily in the environment. It goes back to where it comes from thus creating minimal or no waste.

Coffee Ground Fibres

Coffee Ground is an essential raw material that can be used to make fibres. Singtex, a Taiwanese textile company, combines coffee ground with polymer to create masterbatches. It is then spun into yarn. This resulting yarn is multi-functional and can be used in a number of products from outdoor and sportswear to everyday household items.

Pineapple Fabric

As bizarre as it may sound, pineapple fabric is a vegan alternative to leather made from pineapple leaves. Ananas Anam, a London-based textile company, has created a natural and non-woven textile from the leaves of the pineapple plant.s

Banana Fibres

Banana Fibres are among the strongest natural fibres in the world. The stem of the banana tree is used to make this highly durable and biodegradable fibre. It is similar to bamboo fibre but has the better spin ability, fineness, and tensile strength.

Banana Fibres are used to make ropes, mats, woven fabrics, and handmade papers. A Kosrae-based company, Green Banana Paper, uses banana fibre to make vegan wallets, purses, beads, and paper.

Lotus Fibres

Lotus Fibre has been used in countries like Thailand and Myanmar for centuries. The lotus fibre exhibits the most supreme quality fabric. It appears like a mix of silk and raw linen and is light-weight, stain-resistant, soft, and breathable.

While these are great alternatives, it remains to be seen how commercially viable and suitable for large scale production each of them are. While the Hemp Fibre industry is gaining momentum, the coffee ground fabric has the same potential for the mass market.

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